The cover story in the latest issue of Weld for Birmingham, one of my city's weekly newspapers, examines 10 provocative quotes about my hometown. The piece is called Write On Birmingham and I picked up the paper with this plan to read the quotes and then pen some compelling piece of my own about the Magic City and post it here. But that didn't happen.
Besides, how could anything I write compare to this quote from the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth:
After being away for about 10 years, I returned to Birmingham in 2009. When people ask me if I like being back home I'm honest: "No. But I want to." And I do. I really, really want to fall in love with Birmingham. But it feels like I'm in a relationship with some guy who keeps cheating on me, who keeps breaking my heart and I keep giving him chance after chance.
As we all do in rocky relationships that we want to salvage, I try to focus on the good things -- the wonderful performing arts school at which I have the honor to teach, my favorite coffee shops and restaurants, my church, the supportive community of women writers I've discovered through See Jane Write, Black Girls RUN! Birmingham. But not even all of this is enough to drown out the sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic voices screaming in my ears. This city's extreme colorism even has me feeling like an ugly duckling.
Nevertheless, I'm going to stick around. Birmingham has scars and scabs but has made progress. It is a place where we can see how far we've come as a nation. And Birmingham motivates me to use my writing as activism because it is also a reminder that we still have a long way to go.